Committed relationships are hard work. If you and your partner have been struggling to communicate, you may feel so much frustration and built-up resentment that it’s difficult to see how things can get better. Layers of hurt from past arguments or hurtful experiences might make it difficult to let go of anger and forgive. Maybe one of you has struggled with drugs or alcohol to escape the stress of trying to communicate. Do you fear that your relationship has become so vulnerable that you find yourself looking for attention from others? Or maybe you have begun to find clues that your partner is doing the same?
Have you communicated to your partner that you feel unhappy and unsatisfied but those conversations have turned defensive and circular as you both blame each other for the state of your relationship? Or, maybe your conversations have gone well and things seemed to change, but your relationship gradually fell back into unsatisfying patterns?
Maybe you’ve tried everything you can think of to create change in your relationship, and now you are just plain exhausted. You may know that you need support, but struggle with asking for help. Maybe you are wondering where to begin.
Every Relationship Has Its Challenges
No relationship is free from challenge or conflict. Even if you never “fight,” you may both agree with everything the other says to avoid conflict. Just as you bring your own unique life experience to your relationship, your relationship and the dynamic between you and your partner is unique and complex. You may feel all alone in your struggle. As you crawl into bed at night and lie in the deafening silence wondering what to do or what your partner is thinking, know that you are not alone in your experience.
In our culture we have received many misleading and false messages about relationships that contribute to these struggles. Do you find yourself expecting that your partner should always be able to anticipate and intuit your wants? Do you believe that your partner is responsible for meeting all of your emotional needs? Have you left all of your friends behind to focus on your relationship only to wake up one day and realize you have no social support system? Do you wonder how the same qualities that attracted you to your partner are now exactly what turn you off? Did you get into your relationship thinking that you could change your partner in some way? These are common relationship traps that keep relationships from developing the type of communication necessary to sustain over the long-term.
Couples Counseling Can Help Strengthen Your Relationship
Asking for help takes a lot of courage. Couples counseling sessions are a safe environment for you and your partner to discuss difficult topics in the presence of a neutral third party. Therapy can teach you how to communicate and ask for what you want from a non-threatening, honest place. When you sit and listen to your partner speak to a therapist, you may view him or her clearly for the first time, and understand your situation in a new way. With this understanding comes an opportunity for growth and resolution.
As your relationship grows and evolves through couples counseling, you can discover a level of intimacy and satisfaction that you only dreamed about. As you let go of resentments, hurt, anger, fear, and lean into love, you can enjoy your partner and have fun together again. With help, you can dissolve defensiveness and enjoy peace. You can rediscover the fun of sex and all things that attracted you to your partner in the first place.
As your relationship therapist, I will support you as a couple. I will serve as guide, teacher, facilitator and coach. I do not run on an agenda or set expectations for a particular outcome. I encourage you both to speak your absolute truth and no longer sacrifice any part of your integrity for the sake of the relationship.
You may be feeling like your relationship could benefit from couples counseling, but you are still struggling with some concerns and questions…
My partner will never change. What’s the use in seeing a counselor?
Your partner may never change. I invite you to ask yourself if your desire to change him or her is creating dissatisfaction. The expectations we have of who our partners “should” be often leads to disappointment. Change comes from within, and your partner may be inspired to improve him or herself when tension and pressure begin to dissipate. Couples counseling can assist you both with communication, acceptance, and taking personal responsibility in your relationship. When that happens, the need to change each other may become less important.
I’m afraid that if I bring up all these issues in our sessions I’ll really hear about it when we get home and things may get worse…
This is a common fear, especially if you have been arguing a lot prior to coming for counseling. In therapy, I will encourage you to agree to make the therapy room a safe space and a judgment-free zone. You need a place to practice new ways of interacting. Sometimes, you each might need a little space after a session to process what was said, but I will support you both in communicating safely. Bringing stuffed emotions, words, incidents, past hurts, and truth to the surface can be painful at first. You may begin to feel more intensely. These feelings can create the illusion of “worse” because they are not comfortable. However, when you both begin to experience the freedom and relief that comes with healthy communication, telling the truth, and maintaining your personal integrity, you’ll wonder why you resisted it for so long. The initial discomfort will quickly become a thing of the past.
However, if there is a history of violence in your relationship, your safety is a top priority. In the first session, I will assess your situation before we discuss any high-conflict topics.
What if my partner can’t handle my truth?
Your partner may be a lot more resilient than you think. You may worry that you partner is not emotionally stable enough to hear your concerns. This reasoning can sometimes be a way to avoid conflict and tough conversations. When you keep your feelings inside, you both suffer in silence and continue to build resentment. Therapy can be a very supportive process to help you get clear about what you need to share and help your partner to hear you in a way that is productive.
If your partner has a history of hospitalizations prior to initiating couples counseling, it will be important to establish that your partner has the tools he or she needs for self-care and managing difficult emotions. In this case, there may be some additional steps needed to make the process safe for all parties.
You Can Reconnect With Your Partner
If you feel ready to take a closer look at your relationship and develop intimacy with your partner, I invite you to email me to set up a free 15-minute phone consultation to discuss your interest in couples counseling. I look forward to the opportunity to help your relationship grow!